Fall break was two weeks long, so we smooshed a lot into that thing! One thing I haven’t mentioned yet that I loved was the Restore Conference. It was the best conference to facilitate belonging.
This is a conference some friends attended and loved last year, and I felt drawn to it. So to be honest, I kind of based our timing of fall break around this thing so we could go this year.
I think this is something many blog readers will be interested in since there are so many church-related questions on this blog. I do love them. Even the tough ones. Because with questions comes delving deeper. I don’t have all the answers. I have. so much to learn. But I love immersing myself in questions and pondering about the depths of God’s goodness. And His love.
It turned out that not only did I get to have Dave come with me, but it turned into an MFME gathering. Which was really helpful because I thirsted for deep-dive discussions about so many of these things.
Faith Matters Podcast
I love the Faith Matters podcast. So many episodes have spoken to me over the years. These ones are perhaps the tops:
- God’s Many Voices, Part 1 AND Part 2 (so good!)
- Don’t let a good faith crisis go to waste
- Be in the World
Oh there are so many more that I love. I realize I’m a little biased with that last one, because it’s my Dad being interviewed. But man alive, it’s so good. Especially starting after minute twenty or so.
Anyway, I love that there is so much willingness to dive into questions, faith, the “why’s” amidst all that we do to develop our relationship with God.
The Restore Conference
So this “best conference to facilitate belonging” as I like to call it, was filled up with many of the interviewees from the podcast as well as a slew of people who made me think. It was filled up with so much goodness.
I loved sharing it with Dave.
And also with my mom and sisters.
…and some friends too.
I’m going to talk more about the MFME portion and our discussions, plus the eclipse (that happened right in the middle of it all), tomorrow.
For today, I’m just going to share some of my favorite thoughts from the speakers:
Questions help us grow
- “Be patient for all which is unanswered in your heart.” –Thomas McConkie
- Jared Halverson talked about the importance of making space for questions. Oh it was powerful.
Seek to Understand others and embrace differences
- The importance of community and “the bonds of association.” I love how Spencer Cox, who is the governor of Utah, quoted Alexis Tocqueville” (one of my favorites I studied back at Boston University years ago). “If men are to remain civilized or become so, the art of association must become so.”
- Alexis Tocqueville, when studying early American culture, was fascinated with religious association. He talked about how when religious culture goes away, associations get taken over by anger and pride. I feel like this is happening so much in our society!
- “We need to disagree better.” Disagreeing is important. We just need to figure out how to better resolve.
- As followers of Jesus, we must stand up and create collaboration and goodness. BUILD BRIDGES OF UNDERSTANDING.
- The problem isn’t that our political parties are so different, it’s what each other thinks the other believes is the danger. “The Perception Gap.”
- We need to stop telling our kids to go out and change the world. We need to go out and change our own communities.
- SPEND TIME with people who are different from you. Learn from them.
Transactional relationships vs. unconditional love
- I loved Steve Young’s thoughts he shared about the Law of Love. He has written a book about this and I am excited to read it. He talked about Moses’ two trips up the mountain. The first was “transactional.” The second was to really build real relationships with love. Both are important. At some point we need to leave transactional relationships and use that power to “become” love.
- I love that Adam Miller shared that love requires our participation, not our perfection.
- I love that Fiona Givons talked about how our very most important covenant is to “feed His sheep.” Strengthen the feeble knees, comfort those in need of comfort. This is how we build Zion.
Developing faith as we learn and grow
- I love that Rosalynde Welch talked about how our growth comes from light, life and love and compared it all to a garden and the cycle of fruitfulness.
- Jody Moore talked about how negative emotion is part of a natural healthy human response. We just need to learn to process the negative emotions in a positive, building way.
- Jesus came to transform our idea of justice.
- Tom Christofferson talked about “how” church over “why” church. Church is more about how we see and seek Christ than how we are welcomed.
Different faiths represented with so much to offer
- I love that Lisa Miller spoke, a professor at the Columbia Mind and Body Institute. She talked about, from a different spiritual background (not LDS), how spirituality is inate, and all of our relationships shape our spiritual core.
- I love that Ms. Miller said “when we strengthen the “spiritual core” we create an immunity to so many problems.” How do we build this spiritual core in ourselves? How do we help our children build a spiritual core?
- There was a beautiful prayer offered by Marian Edmonds-Allen.
- Rabbi Samuel Spector talked, right in the wake of all that is happening in Israel, about how we are partners to God in ongoing brotherhood in our communities.
- Daryl Davis talked about his experience befriending members of the KKK as a black man, and what he gained from reaching out to people so different from himself. He also performed for us which was fabulous.
- Patrick Mason talked about how church gives us community. Jesus came into community. He preached, performed miracles, went to dinner in communities.
- When we hear someone say something that we don’t like, or someone who differs from what we think, we need to get curious. With love.
- Jennifer Finlayson Fife talked about “eros” and the light of Christ. She talked about how eros, the word that is also the name of the Greek God of romantic love is representative of the kind of energy that pulls us outside of ourselves. When we fall in love, we develop that energy that encourages love and compassion. She talked about liminality and how Thomas Moore, a Catholic Theologian explained this as love that pulls us outside of ego into transcendence. When we are secure in our anchor with God, and know that we matter, we can so much better reach out and build and love others.
The Mysteries of the Universe and the beauty of nature
- George Handley talked about the difference between possessing land and being possessed by it. This spoke to me because often I feel as if I am possessed by the mysteries and beauty of the earth. He talked about how the earth holds God’s healing power.
- The earth and nature can absorb grief. I so agree with this! The atoning and healing powers of the earth are available to all of us.
- Peter Enns talked about two trillion galaxies that we are now aware of, and where God is in all of this. Psalms 19: “The Heavens declare the glory of God…”
- “Because God is so much bitter than we know, it stirs both curiosity and humility.” Oh this talk spoke to my heart.
Music that moves us
There was some great music right along with those words. I love the Brandon Flowers (from The Killers) sang…
As well as the Utah MCO choir (that my cute nephews and niece are in).
I loved that there was gospel soul music added in too, I wish I had pictures, or even better, recordings of that!
And art. We got to reunite with our long-lost artist friend, Rose Datoc Dall (and her artist daughter) from our Virginia Days:
Just so much goodness in one spot.
Obviously I could go on and on about this conference to create belonging. Every single talk gave me so much think about. Things to carry around in my heart. Please let me know if you want to talk about any of these ideas more in depth, I’m your girl! It was kind of like a firehose of information so I want any opportunity to debrief. So grateful for the opportunity to talk deep with Dave, my mom and sisters. All about that coming tomorrow.
It is part of human nature to feel like we matter. We matter when we belong. And we ALL belong.
For now, I’ll just say I believe God is bigger than we can comprehend. And I believe that Love is the answer to most things in life. May we rejoice in our differences, try to learn where others are coming from, and lean into our faith as we wrestle to understand some of life’s biggest mysteries.
God is good.